When I got married almost 18 years ago, the thought of divorcing never entered my mind. Those of us who've gone through it jokingly say "it's not like you think the day of your wedding, when I get divorced..." In fact, my ex and I had both come from divorce and made a pact that we would do whatever it took to stay together. I guess you can tell where that story ended. Fifteen and one quarter years after the day of our wedding, my ex moved out.
I would be lying if I said it wasn't a long time coming but I can honestly say I thought the separation would give us both some breathing room, allow all of us (especially our three girls) to have a peaceful home and would be the catalyst for us to realize we loved each other and wanted to work things out.
I started a business about divorce, Divorce Home Solutions, and am writing this blog, so you can probably tell how that went.
They say "necessity is the mother of invention," so I ended up with a business and in role I never saw coming. I have learned in life we can either become victims, survivors or thrivers. A thriver uses their experience to help others who will follow in their path. Helping divorcing couples at one of the most vulnerable and challenging times in their life has become a fulfilling outcome to an unplanned occurrence.
Divorce Home Solutions was born in my first attorney consultation - the free one that almost all attorneys will give. Because we were mediating divorce and things were fairly amicable, I hadn't consulted with one until we came to a disagreement about the length of time I could remain in the home. The attorney basically said if we couldn't agree on what to do with the home, we'd go before a judge who would most likely order us to put it on the market within 60 days. I looked at her like a deer caught in headlights. I had NO IDEA that's how it works.
I owned a company, Silver Linings Transitions specializing in moves for seniors because downsizing for a senior is emotionally and physically overwhelming. It occurred to me as I realized I might also have to move during a stressful time our services would also help divorcing couples likely downsizing and having to move during an extremely stressful time in their lives.
I asked the attorney if she thought Silver Linings Transitions business model might translate to divorcing couples. You can probably guess her answer...I contacted my friend, now business partner, Bryan Devore as soon as I walked out of that meeting and together we started Divorce Home Solutions.
Because our model is new in the industry, we've had many professionals in the divorce arena meet and reach out to us as they've understood the benefit of these services for their clients. Divorcing clients, at one of the most vulnerable and stressful times don't always make sound decisions and we provide a reliable service and respite for them. Our work involves selling homes, dividing belongings, finding new homes and helping people pack and then get them comfortably settled in their new homes.
As professionals in the San Diego divorce arena have learned about our business, we've learned about theirs. We've been exposed to specialties we never knew existed. Professionals like CDFAs (Certified Divorce Financial Analysts), Mortgage Lenders who specialize in divorce and can help structure the MSA, Divorce Coaches who will serve as a filter between you, your ex and and the attorneys to soften the communication and keep things from escalating. We also started a support group for separated and newly divorced people because we both felt it was an unmet need and we wanted others to learn from each other and from us that while the process is definitely bumpy, there really are good things on the other side.
So I may have become an accidental divorce "expert". Having said that, if you need any advice or support, you know here to find me. Besides, Lucy always was my favorite character.
There’s no getting around it; going through divorce means adapting to a new lifestyle. You are no longer a family unit residing in one house. While you face the pain, fear, anger and sadness divorce may bring, you will likely be challenged with living on the same family budget - maintaining, and possibly co-parenting, between two households. To put it mildly, your definition of “home” and your priorities will undergo a huge transition.
As someone who specializes in helping people reshape their living spaces during major lifetime transitions, I have the opportunity to work with people while they reflect on their lives and the mementos that represent it. When you are suddenly limited to a smaller living space, all your “stuff” doesn’t seem so important. Do you really NEED 47 pairs of shoes?
Here are some creative ways to make your new lifestyle work on a (likely MUCH) smaller budget work.
One of the “gifts” of divorce is discovering how resilient and resourceful you are. Think of your new, smaller, lifestyle as a transition. Remember, “Harry Potter” author, JK Rowling, lived in her car after her divorce, obviously just a temporary setback for her. You WILL adjust and do what you need to do to ensure a successful transition to your new life.
Jami Shapiro, Partner
Divorce Home Solutions